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The society in beowulf an epic poem

She also compares the character of Beowulf with other epic heroes and reviews several of the themes of the work, including the role of God and providence and the futile, transitory nature of human existence.

The note of epic is its objectivity: A man of great strength, courage, and generosity fights three monsters, two when he is a young man, the third in his old age. Other more complicated human events precede these, others intervene, others will follow, but those more realistic events are all essentially background. To some earlier critics as to W. Kerr in Epic and Romance, the choice of a folktale main narrative was a serious fault. The action and the characters of this apparently simple story have the strength to embody the experience and ideals of the original audience.

  1. In Beowulf the narrator and characters use human experience to understand the human condition and to find the noblest way to live their lives. Other more complicated human events precede these, others intervene, others will follow, but those more realistic events are all essentially background.
  2. A heroic king comes from the sea and is given back to the sea in death.
  3. Beowulf also shared the Anglo-Saxon belief of an afterlife. Nevertheless, duty and sympathy and generosity are his primary motivations.

The monsters participate in evil and disorder as no human, even Heremod, could, but the evil that originates purely within the human heart is not overlooked. Beowulf as an Epic Poem We have so large base of authors that we can prepare a unique summary of any book.

How fast would you like to get it? We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails. Transforming both the fairy tale monsters and the sordid power politics of the background is the objective recognition of human struggle for understanding and order. This is the hallmark of human experience seen through the lense of epic technique.

  1. Character by character, incident by incident, they create the society and the universe in which the great tests of the monsters are set. Generations later another heroic king is buried on the cliffs overlooking the sea.
  2. In being remembered forever Beowulf would live on, thus proving his ties to Anglo-Saxon society.
  3. Friendship is important because it shows another aspect of loyalty. At the end of the story, when Beowulf is cremated, his treasure is buried and becomes "as useless to men now as it ever was.
  4. Since Beowulf showed as much loyalty as he did he stands up to yet another characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon beliefs.

In Beowulf the narrator and characters use human experience to understand the human condition and to find the noblest way to live their lives. The narrator periodically reminds the reader of the over-arching providence of God as in lines 1056-58: The Lord God ruled over all men, as he now yet does.

Hrothgar, the the society in beowulf an epic poem king of the Danes, a man who has known triumph and disaster, looks back across his long life and reaches into the workings of the human heart and out into the realities of time and circumstances to understand human sorrow and evil.

The inclusiveness of Beowulf reaches backwards and forwards in time. Character by character, incident by incident, they create the society and the universe in which the great tests of the monsters are set. They define the limits of the heroic heart and heroic society, the ideals which characters like Hrothgar and Beowulf fulfill and in some ways transcend. Beowulf is a carefully designed poem.

A heroic king comes from the sea and is given back to the sea in death. Generations later another heroic king is buried on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Between them vengeance and feud, despair and generosity weave their way through the human life. Every idea, every theme is examined from one angle after another, with all the techniques available to the poet from an Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition rich in irony and understatement.

Treasure is the lifeblood of heroic society, fame made tangible, but the poet links it with death and despair.

Expert Answers

Love of kin motivates Beowulf throughout his life, but in the society around him families destroy themselves. Song and generosity wake a monster.

  • Beowulf did battle monsters, but he also epitomised the beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon society and proved that you don't have to save a damsel in distress to be an epic hero;
  • In the third act of the poem, he decides to fight the dragon, despite his advanced age, in order to ensure that he will be remembered as the great warrior he once was; and, finally, he tells his story to Wiglaf on the beach as he is dying because the Anglo-Saxons placed huge value on the repetition of stories in order to prolong and preserve reputation;
  • Beowulf is an epic hero of the Anglo-Saxon time period because he showed friendship, loyalty, bravery, and shared a common belief about the afterlife;
  • These critics had lived through two world wars.

Just when safety seems assured the best and truest friend and councillor dies. Although these techniques are specifically Anglo-Saxon, they can be broadly paralleled in all western epics.

How does Beowulf fulfill the characteristics of the epic?

The poem uses an elaborate vocabulary dictated, at least in part, by the alliteration and stress patterns of Old English verse. This vocabulary, although largely that of everyday speech or prose, includes words which are rarely used outside of poetry. It is quite possible the poet has even coined words for Beowulf.

The poet presents the material in carefully structured sentences and equally structured verse paragraphs. This structure, with its emphasis on defining things by what they are not, and by understatement, produces pointed juxtapositions of characters, themes and action. It clarifies cause and effect.

It produces clear and swift narrative movement. It can be a potent source of irony. Sunlight is good, cold is bad. The words do not refer to symbols but to reality.

The poem gains immediacy from simplicity and universality, qualities it shares with the Homeric epic. The poet always seems to find the best and fewest words to make objects real to us. Landscapes resonate with atmosphere: This is true to some extent of all literature, but particularly of the epic.

Beowulf, however, is different from other northern heroes and from the heroes of Greek and Roman epics. He is radically different, not just from Heremod, but from Ing and Scyld and Sigemund. He is unlike Achilles, unlike Odysseus except in his love of family.

He is a hero driven not by personal glory but by affection and duty. He seems largely untouched by the darker emotions which dog Aeneas and betray him into fury at the end of the Aeneid. Personal glory is not without meaning to Beowulf.

  • Another belief that Beowulf portrays is friendship;
  • These digressions are used to help maintain the attention of the audience, and to shed light upon the main story, but they also reflect the Anglo-Saxons' strong belief in continual telling of the stories of their ancestors.

He tells Hrothgar that the best thing men can do is to lay up fame before death lines 1386-89. He happily accepts treasure and just as happily passes it on to others.

Nevertheless, duty and sympathy and generosity are his primary motivations. Despite his great strength, he is a man with limitations, in each of his fights he is seriously challenged and clearly sees himself as relying on the help of God. This reading arose partially from factors within the poem and partially from factors external to it. These critics had lived through two world wars.

Beowulf: An Epic Hero

Many of them had served as soldiers and known violent, often pointless, death, often the death of friends. Beowulf and the rest of the characters are never allowed the luxury of assuming that any victory earns more than a respite. The poem is full of a deep sense of the fragility of human institutions and of human hopes. Need Help With Your Essay? Get Help From Professional Writer Good men and women can do their best, their fame is assured, but not necessarily their works. The whole action of the poem happens within historical patterns where families and kingdoms rise and fall.

He gives his life to save them from the dragon, but he cannot save them from themselves.